ALAN Pardew admits Newcastle United are losing ground in the race to stay up.
The club is deep in relegation trouble with two Premier League games left to play.
Saturday’s goalless draw saw Newcastle climb above Sunderland – but the gap between them and third-from-bottom Wigan Athletic narrowed to just three points.
Roberto Martinez’s side beat West Brom 3-2 at The Hawthorns, and they play their game in hand tomorrow night when they take on Swansea City at the DW Stadium.
Aston Villa also moved to 40 points after beating Norwich City 2-1 at Carrow Road.
Unlike Newcastle, other relegation-threatened sides are winning, and Pardew’s team need a win – and quick.
Queens Park Rangers, already facing up to life in the Championship, are next up at Loftus Road on Sunday, with a home game against Arenal to end the campaign.
“We haven’t got a lot of time left, and Wigan’s result has put pressure on us all,” Pardew admitted.
“Not just us – all the teams above us.
“It looks like at QPR we’re going to have to try and win the game and see where that leaves us. But we wanted to try and get two wins.
“I thought we’d get a goal. We had two great chances. Shola (Ameobi) has shaded the post in the second half, and Gouff’s (Yoan Gouffran) just missed.
“If we’d got a goal, I think we could have seen it out.”
Papiss Cisse came closest to breaking the deadlock on an afternoon of few clear-cut opportunities, with the Senegal international seeing a first-half effort cleared off the line by Winston Reid.
Having shipped six goals at home to Liverpool last weekend, the Magpies were shored up at the back with the return of captain Fabricio Coloccini from a knee injury that had sidelined him since February 24.
They never looked like leaking as many goals as they did seven days before but Rob Elliot made crucial second-half saves from Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis.
Cisse went within inches of opening the scoring just before the midway point of the first half after he latched on to Yohan Cabaye’s ball and poked a shot past Jussi Jaaskelainen.
It looked to be enough to give the visitors a crucial lead but Reid managed to hack the ball away, with assistant referee Matthew Wilkes adjudging that the whole of the ball had not crossed the line.
Former Newcastle forward Andy Carroll had his first chance of the game just three minutes after half-time but the Liverpool loanee could not punish his hometown club as he headed Matt Jarvis’ cross wide from five yards.
Cabaye then flashed a long-range effort wide with neither side providing enough quality in the final third, although the West Ham bench were up in arms shortly afterwards, wanting a penalty as Coloccini leaned into Vaz Te but referee Phil Dowd was unmoved.
Dowd again turned down appeals from the home side for a spot-kick when Carroll and Danny Simpson challenged for the ball, with the rebound leading to Nolan having a shot well saved by Elliot, who then tipped Matt Jarvis’ effort behind.
Jaaskelainen was caught in no-man’s land with 24 minutes remaining but Yoan Gouffran could not convert from a tight angle on the left-hand side of the area.
Carroll was starting to feed on the improved service he was receiving from his team-mates and a clever turn and near-post shot forced another good save out of Elliot as West Ham pushed for the opening goal.
The England striker’s header from a West Ham corner eight minutes from time led to a goalmouth scramble that was eventually hooked away by the visitors’ defence.
But the former St James’s Park favourite could not find a way through and both sides had to settle for a point which suited West Ham much more than Newcastle.
West Ham: Jaaskelainen, Demel (Taylor 80), Collins, Reid, O’Brien, Diame, O’Neil, Vaz Te (Collison 58), Nolan, Jarvis (Joe Cole 84), Carroll. Subs Not Used: Henderson, Carlton Cole, Noble, Pogatetz. Booked: O’Brien.
Newcastle: Elliot, Simpson, Steven Taylor, Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa, Ben Arfa (Ameobi 65), Cabaye, Tiote, Gouffran (Gosling 76), Gutierrez, Cisse. Subs Not Used: Harper, Williamson, Anita, Perch, Campbell. Booked: Tiote.
Att: 34,962 Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).